June 4th, 2009

Side Stories

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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ensign-bookThere always seems to be funny little side stories that never seem to make their way into some of the events that are covered on The Iowa Republican. From time to time it is my intention to write about them on in my Stomping Grounds blog. Here is what I’ve been keeping from you!

Ensign Refers to Blue Bunny as a “Small Company”

While visiting the Well Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars, Senator Ensign referred to Wells, the largest family-owned and managed dairy processor in the United States, as a small company. It’s very likely that Sen. Ensign didn’t see the new Blue Bunny headquarters and their production facilities until he left town. He came in from Sioux Center.

Ensign probably got the point when an employee asked if he would sign their guest book. Ensign signed just below Warren Buffett, who stopped in just a week earlier.

I arrived in Le Mars almost an hour and a half before the Ensign event was scheduled to start. As I pulled into the parking lot, a huge satellite truck was also finding a place to park. You could see the parlor workers looking out the windows at the truck.

Inside, I realized I wasn’t the only one who had arrived early. Mike Glover with the Associated Press had already commandeered the only booth with an electrical outlet nearby. He offered to share, but I was confident in the battery life of my laptop. I regretted that decision later on.

One of the bonuses of arriving early was that it gave an excuse to have a dish of ice cream. I opted for rocky road, Glover had strawberry shortcake, and Ensign, a self described ice cream addict, went for the bunny tracks.

What Not to Wear. A Chiefs Windbreaker?

This one is from a while ago. Dr. Herb London was one of the guest speakers at Congressman Steve King’s Defender of Freedom event earlier this spring. My wife and I drove Dr. London from Sioux City to the Omaha airport the following day.

I’m a firm believer in researching people that I’m going to be stuck in a car with for more than an hour. My extensive research (Google) just before meeting him for breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn told me that he is the father of Stacy London of TLC’s What Not To Wear. The news rattled my wife, who immediately became concerned about her wardrobe, but my only clothing option was a Kansas City Chiefs windbreaker, so I chose not to worry about it.

My time with London in the car flew by. London owns a small piece of the Oneonta Tigers, an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Knowing he is from New York, at breakfast, I asked him if he was a Yankee or Mets fan. Once the words came out of my mouth I instantly knew that he was going to say the Dodgers. After the Dodgers left town, London had become a Mets fan, but now he roots for the Yankees because Carlos Delgado refuses to take the field for the National Anthem before games. My kind of guy.

London ran for Governor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket in 1994. New York politics is fascinating. I got the distinct impression that London is not a fan of George Pataki. One of the most interesting stories he shared was about Bill Kristol. Kristol, who is frequently seen on Fox News, was London’s intern at the Hudson Institute when he was younger. London and Kristol hit the streets of New York to purchase heroin to see if the price was going up or going down. Their research showed that the price was going down, meaning the war on drugs was ineffective. Apparently Kristol’s parents gave London a hard time about their son’s first assignment. Yes, the authorities knew and pre-approved what he was up to.

London was fascinating. It’s too bad people didn’t have the opportunity to learn more about him while in Iowa for Congressman King.


I’ve visited Sioux City twice now to cover events since starting this website, once for King’s Defender of Freedom banquet, and the other for the American Future Fund’s events with Senator Ensign. I have yet to run into Bob Vander Plaats at any event I’ve attended up there.

I don’t really think it’s a big deal. Iowa is a large state, and someone is always serving up a pulled pork sandwich somewhere. I just find it a little odd that, where there are 400 at King’s fundraiser and 100 plus to see Ensign, you wouldn’t want to be there to work the room and been seen.

Pray for Ray

It was good to see former GOP Chairman Ray Hoffmann while in Sioux City on Monday. While many have criticized Ray in the past, it would be almost impossible to find a guy who has more love and appreciation of the Republican Party.

Ray recently was on the losing end with of a disagreement with a four wheeler. He told me that he was showing his grandkids what not to do. The handle bar came up and hit him in the eye, and he also injured some vertebras in his back. I believe he is scheduled for surgery today.

Ray’s serious injuries didn’t keep him away from his restaurant, Luciano’s. Hoffmann retired last year from Smith Barney where he was a stock broker. That didn’t mean Ray slowed down any. Instead, he expanded his restaurant business. Last June, Hoffmann employed nine people. Ray said he now employs 29- not bad in a poor economy. Ray’s pride and joy is his wine cellar. I have to admit, it would be a great place to gather with a small group of people.

Keep Ray and his family in your thoughts and prayers as he recovers, and if you are in Sioux City, have dinner at Luciano’s.

Oh Canada

My wife and I are traveling to Canada to attend a wedding I’m in this weekend. The wedding is an hour or two north of Niagara Falls, so while we are up there, we plan to do the tourist thing. I’m looking forward to watching the fireworks over the falls on Sunday night.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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